Steam from 15 hp Suzuki Four Stroke

Discussion in 'Outboard Maintenance' started by tfl813, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    I have a 1999 15 hp Suzuki four stroke outboard.  Never really had much problems with it except carb stuff from letting it sit for a while.  Anyway I took it out today on the Hillsborough river, I was going idle speed for about 15 minutes though the no wake zone.  Then the zone ended so I took her up to full speed (as I normally do), she was running good for about 2 minutes and then I noticed the rpm's dropped slightly, so I took it right back to idle speed.  As soon as it hit idle speed I just hear hissing and steam (not smoke) starts coming out of exhaust or pee stream, maybe both I don't remember.  Then I just pulled the key and she shut off, I was hooking up my trolling motor and thought I give it another try, so I started it up again (one pull) and then more steam just started coming out so I turned it off and trolled back to the ramp.

    I thought it was weird that the steam started only when I hit idle speed? I'm not sure what it could be, but I think its most likely something in the cooling system, maybe a hose?  I was hoping one someone on here would know.
     
  2. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    Sounds like you caught a plastic bag on the lower unit.
    Blocked the intake until you dropped back to idle then washed off.
    Been there, done that...had to replace my impeller and re-torque the heads.
    Hope yours hasn't done that much damage.

    :'(
     

  3. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    I did see alot more debris than usual in the water, including a few plastic bags... :'( 

    If it's the impeller, I think I can handle the repair myself.  But what's re-torquing the heads?
     
  4. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    Many bad things can happen when a block overheats.
    Worst scenario is the engine seizes, things snap inside, block is totalled.
    If you're lucky, engine didn't get hot enough to do mechanical damage.
    Still, it probably got hot enough so that the metal components increased in size,
    and compressed the gaskets between them enough that the bolts will need to be tightened
    in order to maintain seal between the block and the heads. The fasteners have to be tightened
    in a certain sequence and to a specific measurement (torque).
     
  5. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    Oh boy.  Re-torquing the heads sounds out of my league.  Did you do it yourself or go to a mechanic?   
     
  6. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    I learned how to work on outboards by going through the same problems as you are.
    Didn't have cash to pay for parts and repairs, so I learned to do repairs.
    The most important part needed is the Suzuki factory (OEM) shop manual.
    With the manual in hand, all repairs and specifications are thoroughly explained
    and displayed with close up images, step by step instructions. If you don't feel
    confident in your own mechanical skills, take it to a good outboard mechanic.


    I'm honest with myself about my skill level...see my tagline below... ;)
     
  7. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    I just ordered the manual off of amazon...$20.  I'm actually a little excited to work on the engine, but I'm sure it will lose its allure as so as I realize what I got myself into. Was it a difficult repair for you and was it challenging to get to the bolts? 
     
  8. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    Working on outboards is another way to spend a weekend.
    Hopefully a cold and nasty one so you don't feel like you're missing out.
    I enjoy it, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle that you can actually use when complete.
    Every time something breaks, I learn something new. Never found a problem
    that couldn't be solved using the OEM manual, common sense, and a few specialty tools.
    Head bolts are usually easy to access, the manual will show you how and where.
     
  9. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it!
     
  10. DuckNut

    DuckNut Brandon, FL

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    JohnnyBoy, I get steam several times a year when hunting.

    At idle no very little steam that you don't notice it, at speed lots of steam.

    Every single time the culprit was the inmpeller. Most of the time it is one or two fins broke off. A couple times, somehow one of the fins somehow gets spun the wrong way.

    If your motor was running and is still able to run, replace the impeller and give it a go.

    Bret's advice on a manual is a must - MUST refers to a shop manual, not Chiltons.
     
  11. levip

    levip I Love microskiff.com!

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    AGREED those chiltons and clymer and other various generic manuals are only good for toilet paper and even then only in a pinch....
    make SURE you bought one FROM suzuki or off thebay cause if it was printed by THEM its useless go to the nearest dealer they might have a used one theyll let you have since this engine is a bit older
     
  12. levip

    levip I Love microskiff.com!

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    youve got mail btw
     
  13. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    Since my engine does run and didn't seize up, I'll just replace the impeller and go from there, as Ducknut said.

    ...Well the manual I ordered was clymer's, but thankfully it hasn't shipped yet so that's no big deal to get a refund.  I got your message Levi and I'll be ordering that Suzuki one today. 
     
  14. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    I talked today with a friend of mine and he suggested that I just start up the engine because it may have simply overheated from something blocking the intake.  Since it was running for less than a minute after the blockage occurred he said that there's a good chance the engine suffered no damage. 

    So today I got out the trash can and started her up, and she started up first pull, no steam, no weak pee stream.  I left her running for about 15 minutes at half throttle and she ran perfectly normal, no overheating.  I'm going to test her out on the river this weekend, but I'll stick close to the ramp just in case something happens and I have to troll back.  Problem solved? 
     
  15. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    I'd still replace the impeller assembly and re-torque the heads.
     
  16. DuckNut

    DuckNut Brandon, FL

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    I would replace the impeller - but would not touch the head bolts at this time.

    edit: with the lower unit off you can ensure that there is no obstructions.
     
  17. Creek Runner

    Creek Runner Well-Known Member

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    Just to throw a monkey wrench out there, just because an engine produces steam/condensation doesn't mean it is overheating. The normal range of an outboard is around 170-180 degrees ( some cooler some hotter) If your thermostat is lets say 145 degrees which is common, the water temp has to be hotter than 145 to open, on a cool day of less than let's say 60 degrees your going to get some steam/condensation. Not saying your motor didn't over heat just wanted to let other people know who read the post and see steam doesn't mean your motor is overheating.

    However a water pump impeller is very cheap insurance, so any time doubt is there replace it. So as Brett said still replace it!!!
     
  18. Creek Runner

    Creek Runner Well-Known Member

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    WHY? There is no down fall to checking the torque of the head bolts, it's routine maintenance that is free to do!
     
  19. tfl813

    tfl813 I Love microskiff.com!

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    Just a little update on the whole situation.  I took it out Sunday and she ran fine, except when I was going fast.  I would go WOT for a few minutes and then the pee would just become weaker, so I would put it back to neutral and then it would be fine.  It just kept on doing this, so I just turned around and went back at about half throttle and had no problems.  My top speed wasn't affected.  I'll just go ahead and replace the impeller.  I still don't know why it only happens at full throttle, and why it takes a few minutes for the pee become weak.  The river was also very dirty with leaves and bags, but at this point I'm just going to open it up and see what's wrong.

    Btw, what will happen if the heads are loose, will I lose compression?

    Thanks for all these replies too!

       
     
  20. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    Lose compression, burn a gasket, bleed exhaust into water jacket
    pull water into cylinder, bleed water into the bolt threads and cause corrosion.
    Torquing only takes a few minutes when you know how. Easy to learn.
     
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